Prepare your trip to Isla Navarino
When to come?
Most of the season runs from early December to the end of March. During this period the hikes are all feasible because, even if there may be snowfall, it does not hold.
From mid-October to early December and for the month of April, conditions are more random. The days are shorter, there can still be big snowfalls on the Dientes trail which make the route dangerous. The other hikes are passable, although the cold complicates everything. Thermal sensations with humidity and wind are often much lower than the actual temperature.
There are no winter activities on offer and this is a pity because the weather is more stable in winter. But the days are very short.
How do you get in and… out?
Navarino is an island and there are only three ways in and out:
From Punta Arenas :
– by ferry (34h) with the Austral Broom company. The ferry leaves every Thursday at 4pm and arrives in the night from Friday to Saturday around 1am. Seats are reclining and comfortable, meals are included and satisfactory. There are even showers. Some weeks there is also a ferry on Tuesdays but it is not as reliable. It is regularly cancelled or does not accept passengers for some obscure reasons. Do not rely on it if you have a tight schedule. Count about 110,000 pesos per trip.
– by plane (1h) with aerovías DAP. There is a flight every day except Sunday. The planes are relatively on time except in case of very bad weather or excessive snow on the runway. You are allowed one piece of luggage of 10kg, the excess is 1250 pesos per kilo. Be careful, it is not rare that the flights are full. Count about 85,000 pesos per trip.
– There is a transfer by boat + bus by 2 companies: Onashaga Expeditions or Hielos Antarticos. They include 1/2h of fast shuttle and 50min of bus. It is impossible to do only the boat crossing because the customs formalities are done in Puerto Williams. Transfers only take place in high season from November 1st to March 31st. And it will be the modest sum of 120 US dollars per trip.
– Some patient and lucky travellers manage to take a sailboat, but this is relatively rare. Indeed the captain then takes the risk of having his route requalified as commercial and get a nice fine. Moreover as it is a border there is quite a lot of paperwork, which makes it cold for some.
How long will you be there?
Some people come to Puerto Williams just for “making” the southernmost city in the world. Indeed, when you have little time, you can make the ferry trip as a “cruise in the fjords”, quickly visit the city of Puerto Williams and leave by boat to Ushuaia. But at a time of ecological awareness, it seems to me that it’s a shame to have to travel so far to pass by the main part of Navarino Island. Perhaps rethink the way you enjoy your trip by taking your time and so much the worse for Williams.
So 5 days on the spot seems to me a great minimum. If you like hiking, the virgin and wild nature, plan more like 10 days, or even more. Don’t make your agenda too tight or you will be in for some very bad surprises: ferry late, port closed for storm… This is not normal but it can happen to you. To give you an idea of the activities offered on the island.
The ideal, if you can afford it, i.e. if you have time, is not to take a return ticket and let yourself be carried away by the atmosphere of the island. You may be surprised to spend a month or more there!
What to take with you?
Nothing more than the usual hiking gear. We’ve made you a memory aid list for your bag. If you are missing something, you will find hiking equipment (tent-sleeping bag-mattresses-mattresses-sticks…) to rent at Turismo Shila, at normal rates or even lower than in Puerto Natales.
Don’t bother with food, you’ll find what you need in Williams. It’s a little more expensive but not enough to justify charging you. Maybe an assortment of dried fruit or freeze-dried food packets if you like that?
Want to be pampered
If you are not used to hiking on your own, if you don’t want to be loaded like a mule, if you are a bit worried about organizing everything by yourself, 2 agencies are at your disposal on the island. Turismo Shila is the oldest agency on the island. Don’t trust the old fashioned website, the agency is active and serious. The fishing specialist on the island. Prefer the contact by mail or whatsapp. They have a French-speaking guide. Explora isla Navarino offers the same trekking services, plus daily offers.